Friday, July 8, 2011

Horrible Bosses (2011) Review

Directed by Seth Gordon

From the first time I caught wind of the projected cast for Horrible Bosses, it was immediately among my most anticipated comedies of the 2011. The trailer was good, the TV spots were fine, and the red band trailer was hilarious. I had extremely high hopes, and finally, in a year of trashy movies and many disappointments, this movie lives up to the hype. It is the funniest movie of the year so far.

Seth Gordon, probably most known for his hugely popular documentary The King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters, directs this sharp, funny comedy with a lot of flair. It always looks great, almost in a Judd Apatow type of way. He is a director to watch for sure, even though he did direct that failure Four Christmases. But that is beyond the point. This movie showed a lot of potential.

The story is a brilliant one for a buddy comedy. Nick (Jason Bateman) is a businessman who is looking forward to his inevitable promotion to VP of Sales, when his prick boss Harken (Oscar-winner Kevin Spacey) just absorbs the responsibility himself, basically giving Nick the shaft. Dale (Charlie Day) is a dental assistant to Julia (Jennifer Aniston), who will stop at nothing to make Dale sleep with him. Doesn’t seem like too much of a plight, but he is engaged, so I suppose that changes it a bit. Finally, Kurt (Jason Sudeikis) works at an energy company for Jack (Donald Sutherland), a boss who he actually likes. He dies, and his son Bobby (Colin Farrell) takes over, who is a cocaine-addicted party animal who wants to drain the company of his money. The three best friends get a drunken idea one night to murder their bosses, and they pursue it. Following a meeting with Motherfucker Jones (Oscar-winner Jamie Foxx), a criminal who offers up some help, they try to put together the perfect series of murders.

Now, the movie on its surface might seem very slight and stupid. That might be a truth, because it seems like a Todd Phillips or Farrelly Brothers story. However, the writers are all basically making the first movie after spending several years in TV. The screenplay comes off as a slightly dirtier Apatow picture, which let’s be honest, is as good of a compliment as you can give a buddy comedy. There are flashes of absolute brilliance, and there are very few times when there are moments of eye-rolling or jokes that simply fall flat. There are some great passing movie references, which basically are Easter Eggs to avid moviegoers. I do not have too many complaints with the screenplay, other than the fact that the movie does dip into unnecessary action sequences and just stretches the limits of plausibility on several occasions. I realize that the movie isn’t supposed to be real, but sometimes keeping the plausibility can make the movie even better and an instant classic.

The acting in the movie is quite good on most fronts. Jason Bateman gives one of his finest performances. Normally when I see him in a movie it is always just him playing himself, but he kinda loses himself in the movie. It was really nice work. Jason Sudeikis is funny as usual, but it is almost a caricature. Relative newcomer Charlie Day of It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia is probably going to get the best in show marks from the average fan, playing the dumbest of the three dimwits, and while he definitely had his moments, some of it comes off as whiny and annoying. Jamie Foxx is hilarious. Colin Farrell plays widely against type and is brilliant. Jennifer Aniston plays as far away from type as possible. I cannot help but hope that this is the direction she will go from now on and finally shed her Rachel Green image that has been overshadowing her career for the past decade. The best performance by far and the main reason to see the movie is obviously Kevin Spacey. His work is basically the wet dream of what Lester Burnham would want to be like in his office. His character is such a badass and so cruel that it is an absolute pleasure to watch. I almost found myself rooting for him for no other reason than my hopes to see more of his character. Spacey is pure comic gold.

So, a movie like this is not going to be perfect. Hard-R comedy is so hard to pull off these days, and this is one of the better efforts that I have seen in the last year. The buddy comedy thing is done to death, but this collection of actors and semi-fresh premise make the movie a real joy. The past failed attempts by Todd Phillips and other might even juice up this movie’s reputation. I hope that people go see it, despite the relative lack of mass previews. This is one of the most enjoyable times I have had at the movies this year, and while it is far from an instant classic comedy, it is well worth your time.

Rating: 3 stars

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